Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Welcome to the Free Market of Outrage! The Koch brothers are killing public transit, Trump's putting young children in cages, Monsanto's fighting farmers, 17 years of war and the VA still fails veterans

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - I live part time in downtown Memphis, Tennessee, and I can’t tell you how elated I was when the city’s trolleys recently began running again after a four-year absence. The clang-clang of those vintage electric cars is part of the charm of this old city, and I’d been missing that sound ever since a fire on two of them in 2014 took them all offline for extended repairs and some replacements.

They might never have come back if the federal government hadn’t kicked in $2.6 million to help one of the nation’s poorest cities get at least one of its three trolley lines back in action. Only the Main Street line runs today, but the two others are expected in the not-so-distant future.

How did the Koch Brothers allow that $2.6 million federal outlay get past them? Did you know that the right-wing billionaires and their minions in Congress, state Legislatures and governors’ mansions have been working hard to kill public transit projects across the land?

Their most recent success was in killing a $5.4 billion mass transit plan in Nashville, Tenn., that would have added needed public transportation to one of the South’s—and nation’s—most vibrant, growing cities. Koch drones spread across the city making thousands of phone calls, knocking on doors, spreading the Koch gospel about the evils of taxes and government of any kind that doesn’t support billionaires like themselves.

Oh, and by the way, the Koch industrial conglomerate “is a major producer of gasoline and asphalt, and also makes seatbelts, tires and other automotive parts,” reports New York Times writer Hiroko Tabuchi in an article published today (June 19).  However, “it supports spending tax money on highways and roads.”

The Koch brothers want you to get in that car and drive, burn their gasoline and the rubber off their tires, and please use your seatbelt!

It’s just one of many outrages in what seems to be a daily onslaught these days.

Of course, the latest is the Trump policy toward immigrant families crossing the border to the south, separating thousands of young children from their parents as the government cages them all, then only giving the parents an 800 telephone number when they’re released and trying to find their children again. Attorney General Jeff Sessions cites the Bible in his defense of this Nazi-like program, but who’s surprised by that?

Many of Trump’s legions will never be shamed into backing away from their führer, but sooner or later those who’ve not drunk too deeply of the Kool-Aid will feel the pain themselves that Trump’s government is inflicting on others. They’ll see his own untrustworthiness—remember how he actually seemed to be endorsing sweeping immigration reform just last January then did as much as anyone to scuttle any realistic reform?

We live in a corporate world, and what business wants, business gets. When Arkansas last year sought to ban the weed-killing-but-also-crop-damaging herbicide dicamba, Monsanto intervened like gangbusters, decrying this limitation on free enterprise.  Halliburton and other companies in the military industrial complex have successfully kept this nation at war since 2001, yet three Veterans Administration secretaries in the last four years have failed to make VA hospitals and clinics fulfill minimal promises to suffering veterans.

Here in the South, now the model for the rest of the nation--and that’s not a good thing, folks--politicians won’t fund basic services and fight Medicaid and other programs for the poor tooth and nail, yet they continue to shell out big bucks to corporations. Witness Alabama’s recent willingness to shell out $700 million in incentives to Toyota and Mazda to land a factory.

I could go on, but I don’t have all day. People are protesting, however. Just this week in front of the Governor’s Mansion in Jackson, Mississippi, members of the Poor People’s Campaign burned the Confederate and Mississippi state flags (which carries the Confederate emblem) to protest the racism that has become inherent in modern-day capitalism. It’s a brown as well as a black issue, but, you know, really at bottom it’s a green issue. 

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